Sub saves Ahly in first leg of African final

Story highlights

  • First leg of African Champions League final ends in 1-1 draw in Egypt
  • Titleholders Esperance take the lead through defender Waleed Hichri
  • Substitute striker El-Sayed Hamdy equalizes late ahead of trip to Tunisia
  • Match was played in Alexandria not Ahly's Cairo ground due to ongoing security fears

Egyptian soccer club Al Ahly snatched a late equalizer against Tunisia's titleholders Esperance on Sunday to leave the African Champions League final in the balance.

The Cairo club will travel to Tunis for the second leg on November 17 thankful for the 88th-minute leveler from substitute El-Sayed Hamdy, who canceled out a valuable away goal by Waleed Hichri.

The match was played at an army stadium near Alexandria due to the security problems faced since 74 fans died in February's Port Said tragedy during a match involving Al Ahly and Al Masry.

Some 20,000 spectators were allowed to attend -- only the second time since the deaths that a match in Egypt has not been played behind closed doors.

Read more: Egyptian ultras seek justice for deaths

Inside Port Said stadium
Inside Port Said stadium


    Inside Port Said stadium


Inside Port Said stadium 02:14

The Egyptian league has been suspended since February as the club's militant fans -- known as "ultras" -- have promised to disrupt matches in protest against the lack of action taken by the authorities. An inquiry into the Port Said deaths is ongoing.

A minute's silence in honor of the dead preceded a goalless first half on Sunday, but Esperance took the lead five minutes after the break when Tunisia international defender Hichri netted from Khalil Chamam's corner.

Al Ahly, in the final for the first time since 2008's record sixth title success, were denied by a superb point-blank save by goalkeeper Ben Chrifia until Ahmed Fathy set up striker Hamdy.

"I'm satisfied with that draw, the match was very difficult so it felt like a win for us today," Ahly coach Hossam El-Badry told reporters.

"The performance of Ahly players tonight was affected by the long football stoppage in Egypt. It was also difficult for us to arrange friendly games lately."

      Football Focus

    • French football great bids adieu

      After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
    • Mario's 'Queen' tweet tops 2014 list

      He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
    • bpr south african soccor senzo meyiwa death _00000402.jpg

      Loss of a South African 'icon'

      Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
    • German alleged jihadist Kreshnik B (R) listens to his lawyer Mutlu Guenal (L) as he arrives at the higher regional court in Frankfurt. His face is pixelated for legal reasons.

      From Jewish football to ISIS suspect

      Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
    • Where has 'Super' Mario gone?

      One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
    • Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.

      Should rapist return to work?

      Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
    • Teen, 15, makes Euro history

      Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.